April 9, 2020
While attempting to describe “building community through servant leadership”, a 2 minute and 10 second video opened with Fort Hamilton’s Chaplain (MAJ) Bruce Duty, speaking under a USAG Ft. Hamilton sign, saying “2,000 years ago …” and proceeding to use Jesus at the Last Supper as the example for building community. While this video would have been appropriate on the Garrison’s chapel Facebook page, well established time/place/manner restrictions on religious support or sponsorship by government entities and leaders makes posting of this overtly sectarian religious message unconstitutional on the OFFICIAL Garrison page. Five active duty clients (all but one practicing Christians), who recognized this fact, sought assistance from MRFF in order to avoid reprisal, retribution, retaliation and revenge from their chain of command.
MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein immediately contacted the Deputy to Ft. Hamilton’s Garrison Commander to inform them of the client complaints and established time, place, and manner principles for sectarian religious expression in the military. The Garrison Commander’s Deputy acted immediately by informing Mikey that the video would be taken down. In a letter of appreciation to Ft. Hamilton Garrison Commander, Colonel Andrew Zieseniss, Mikey wrote:
I explained to your Deputy that the complaints from our MRFF clients would never have occurred had that chaplain’s video been placed on the USAG Fort Hamilton CHAPLAINS Facebook page instead of the OFFICIAL USAG Fort Hamilton Facebook page; the latter of which, of course, carries the formal and unmistakable imprimatur of command endorsement. Indeed, Colonel Zieseniss, it’s all about the time, place, and manner of sectarian religious expression in the military. As I stated supra, if that video is placed solely on the chaplain’s Facebook page, all three determinants (time, place, and manner) would be in full and proper legal order. However, the placement of that very same video on the official USAG Fort Hamilton Facebook page is completely VIOLATIVE of the legal, ethical, and moral imperatives of time, place, and manner. As such, sir, it is seriously detrimental and prejudicial to the Army’s good order, morale, discipline, and unit cohesion and, likewise, obviously violates the Army’s Seven Core Values (https://www.army.mil/values).
To his credit, your Deputy, Mr. Hood, told me that he would immediately take down the offending video pursuant to our arguments supporting same. We checked right away and he has, in fact, done so. We at MRFF, on behalf of our U.S. Army MRFF clients under your command, thank you for doing the right Constitutional thing here, sir, and doing it immediately after receiving our complaints.